A man convicted of using digital-age tools to impersonate and malign his father’s academic rivals on the subject of the Dead Sea Scrolls was sentenced Monday to two months in jail after the state’s highest court tossed out some of his convictions—and with them, an aggravated-harassment law.
Raphael Golb was re-sentenced by Criminal Court Judge Laura Ward on misdemeanor criminal impersonation and forgery charges that the Court of Appeals upheld, even as it nixed his felony identity-theft conviction and declared the aggravated harassment law unconstitutional in People v. Golb, 2014 NY Slip Op 03426.
Golb had been sentenced in 2010 to six months in jail but was free on bail during his appeal. He remains free at least until July 22, as a judge postponed his surrender date so he can ask the courts to hold off his jail term while he appeals the case further.
From the start, the case was a rarity. Claims of Internet imitation seldom spur criminal trials, let alone trials that air an abstruse but vigorous scholarly dispute over ancient texts. And with the high court’s May ruling, Golb’s case gained another distinction: striking down an often-used aggravated harassment law that police and prosecutors saw as an important tool for pursuing domestic violence and other cases, but Golb called an unconstitutional intrusion on free-speech rights.
The Legislature passed a revised version of the law last month. It was sent on Friday to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign it into law.